Jan 20, 2012, 2:40 PM EST
With the Sabres nine points out of a playoff spot and riding a 11-game road losing streak, Buffalo News scribe John Vogl is wondering if this team is as bad as the one he started covering 10 years ago.
“I’ve been covering the Sabres for a decade,” he writes. “The worst team was the first team. This year’s squad is giving that one competition.”
The 2002-02 Sabres went 27-37-10-8, good enough for 12th in the East and 26th in the NHL.
The current Sabres are 19-23-5, good enough for 11th in the East and 23rd in the NHL.
Vogl goes on to highlight several similarities between the two teams. Both had troubles scoring goals and equal trouble preventing them; both lacked, as Vogl puts it, an “embraceable player to latch on to, the kind you believe can carry a team by himself.”
Another similarity between the 2002-02 and 2011-12 Sabres is the reliance on minor league call-ups. The 02-03 Sabres featured appearances from the likes of Norm Milley, Jason Botterill, Jaroslav Kristek and Doug Houda (okay, Houda only played one game) while the 11-12 Sabres have been forced to call up the likes of Derek Whitmore, Joe Finley, Colin Stuart and Paul Szczechura due to a myriad of injuries.
That said, there is one key difference between the two teams. Owner Terry Pegula spent big bucks assembling the current Buffalo squad and expectations were sky high coming into the year.
The bar for the 2002-03 team was set much lower.
There was little hope. Bankruptcy was coming, and no one knew who’d be in control of the team.
At least in 2002-03, the Sabres knew they were bad. They traded Chris Gratton, Stu Barnes, Vaclav Varada and Rob Ray to try and build for the future. One prize was Danny Briere, who did indeed help the future.
This year’s squad keeps saying it will be better when healthy. There’s no talk of building for the future.
Vogl warns of what’s to come should the Sabres fail to improve when they get healthy.
“If they don’t,” he writes, “the question of the worst team in a decade becomes a no-brainer.”
- Garbutt to have hearing for kneeing Hall 0
- The day before Thanksgiving, six new playoff teams 8
- What they’re saying about St. Louis’ return to Tampa Bay 16
- NHL on NBCSN: Flyers face Red Wings on Rivalry Night 10
- Video: Canucks honor Quinn with “O Danny Boy” 8
- Video: Stars’ Klingberg scores from center ice 4
- Report: Alfredsson retirement to be announced Dec. 4 10
- On the odds of fighting back after Thanksgiving 10
- Why are the Oilers still bad? Look at their drafting 21
- The Leafs are worth almost seven times the Panthers, says Forbes 21
- Video: Milan Lucic calls Dalton Prout one-punch ‘gutless’ (99)
- Prout drops Lucic: ‘As far as I was concerned we were engaged in a fight’ (88)
- The Leafs didn’t salute their fans last night, so that’s a thing now (79)
- Jack Johnson filed for bankruptcy, parents allegedly took advantage of him (58)
- Bruins’ Lucic expected to play against Habs after getting one-punched (Updated) (47)